Family Life: Weirdos

by Ray Martin

You know the people with the bumper stickers, the rosaries on their rear view mirrors, the one’s who don’t have cable TV and spend too much time helping out at the soup kitchen?  They even go to midnight Mass for Christmas, what is up with those WEIRDOS!?!  Well they’re probably a strong Catholic family which is so counter-cultural that it seems flat out strange.  It takes more than a bobble-head of Jesus on your dash to be an effective Catholic family and that’s what we’re highlighting, the qualities that make a Catholic family great!

A Family Life Worth Repeating

In their book, Discovering God Together, Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcek offer ways to raise children to be faithful Catholic Adults.  They say that parents must “give (their children) an example of Catholic family life that is worth repeating in adulthood.”

  1. Parents have to offer a home life experience that appears to be better, not perfect, but more honest, intimate, generous and joy filled than their non-Catholic friends experience.
  2. Children have to come to understand that it is their parents’ love for Jesus Christ and their Catholic faith that are responsible for that experience.

This is obviously going to be a home life that looks very different than a secular or even non-Catholic but Christian household.

Rituals And Routines

Fortunately, our Catholic faith offers a liturgical calendar full of feast and holy days which become the rhythm of our lives.  They help us keep a tempo for the seasons of our spirituality touching all of the important aspects of our life in Christ.  This regular and repeated activity provides the opportunity for us to bond with one another and our community through the rituals of annual holidays, special celebrations of sacraments, and growth in discipleship.  This repetition forms strong and healthy attachment of children to their parents, a significant factor that will cause them to turn to their parents in times of trouble or to make good decisions as teens and adults.

Attachment is an emerging term in parenting and when children have healthy attachment with their parents, they go to them when they have problems.  They also make good decisions for themselves because they have good self-esteem.  What we see so often in children today however is low feelings of self-worth and rather than make good decisions, they turn to anything that will make them feel better in the moment.  Healthy attachment is a huge factor in helping children grow up to be successful adults.  So when we talk about routines in the church that provide people comfort, it’s because those repeated holidays, seasons, and traditions drive the attachment of children with their family.

Work, Play, Talk, Pray

  • Strong Catholic families work together in daily chores and projects around their home and community.
  • Playing together with fun activities like game nights or special celebrations like birthdays help bond the family’s relationships.
  • Catholic parents talk with their children and are considered to be spiritual directors of the household.
  • Regular rituals of prayer such as mealtimes or bedtime blessings in addition to weekly Mass.

Worshiping together weaves your faith throughout your daily life connecting God with your family.

In Summary Great Catholic Families:

  1. Worship Together– The Eucharist is our source of love we celebrate at Mass together.
  2. Pray Together– we live out our faith everyday through our relationship with God and our family.
  3. Are Intimate– being open and loving with one another.
  4. Put Family First– our family life is the most important activity in our week.
  5. Are A Witness & Sign– God changes the world through the example of our families.

Take these five examples of ways to make your family great and go change the world!

Sources: Discovering God Together by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcek

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Family Life: Marital Conflict

by Ray Martin

Believe it or not, it is possible to have a disagreement with your spouse and come away feeling more in love with each other, but just like we all have different love preferences, we do not all have the same style of arguing.  In their book, “Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving the First Five Years of Marriage”, Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcek identify ways we can get through these heated moments so that you both come away having solved a problem together rather than tear each other down and allow it to blow over in hopes that it will not happen again.  So that’s what we’re working on today…arguing!

Take Care Of One Another

Oh man, I grew up in a house where most family gatherings ended in a knock down drag out fight with yelling and people getting in their cars screeching out of the driveway all in a huff.  It’s part of the reason that as an adult I avoid conflict as much as I can and I don’t look forward to most holidays.  I have this uneasy feeling about them as if things are just going to blow up by the end of the occasion.

It may sound crazy, but most disagreements can be solved when both people involved feel respected and cared for.  Well how do we do that?  Try asking if it’s a good time to talk about something, or bring your spouse their favorite snack or a beverage before going into it might be a great way to start.

What’s The Problem?

It’s important to identify the real problem.  Here is an example: recently I was being really grumpy with my wife, Brandi.  She had been on the Christ Renews retreat all weekend and the very next night was full of activities for one of our kids and the minute she got home, she was rolling back out.  She could tell that I was crabby and so she asked what was going on.  After a litany of my complaints about the amount of childcare I had been doing and work around the house, I finally got to the real matter which was that I simply missed her and wanted to spend time with her.  Now that’s an actual problem to solve than my bad attitude and complaints.  

Praying about the real problem and coming up with a solution are next steps, but you can’t do that until you’ve identified the actual issue from a calm and rational perspective.  It’s totally ok to take breaks if the conversation heats up because conflict is rarely resolved through yelling, but once both of you are back under control, it’s important to resolve the situation or it will come back.

Four Horsemen of  Marital-Communication Collapse

This leads me to what the Popceks call the “Four Horsemen” of communication collapse in marriages.

  • Criticism: complaints turned into personal attacks
  • Defensiveness: an immediate response that turns attention back at the other spouse
  • Contempt: comments that tear down the other partner or make them feel small
  • Stonewalling: one simply shuts down or stops participating in the conversation

Reflect Next Time

Feel free to print out the list above and hang it somewhere easy to find or refer back to it.  Next time you get into a disagreement or have a problem to solve go back and try to use some of these techniques to solve the problem together.  It’s worth a try.  Most couples don’t like to talk about conflict, but it’s a reality in any relationship.  The most important thing to keep in mind is praying for and forgiving one another.  Allowing an unresolved issue to continue to resurface will cause bitterness to develop.  Prayer, forgiveness, and tactical problem solving will ensure that you and your spouse continue to grow in love.

Sources: First Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcek


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How To Pray The Rosary

Rosary Diagram

  1. Starting on the crucifix, make the sign of the cross and then pray the Apostles’ Creed.

    I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

  2. On the next large bead, pray the Lord’s Prayer.

    Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

  3. On the next three small beads, pray a Hail Mary.

    Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

  4. On the next bead before the decades, pray a Glory Be.

    Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

  5. On the large bead, meditate on the first mystery and pray the Lord’s Prayer.

    You pray mysteries for each of the five sections (decades) of the rosary according to the day of the week:

    • Mondays and Saturdays:

      The Joyful Mysteries remind the faithful of Christ’s birth:
      – The Annunciation (Luke 1:26–38);
      – The Visitation (Luke 1:39–56);
      – The Nativity (Luke 2:1–21);
      – The Presentation (Luke 2:22–38);
      – The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41–52)

    • Tuesdays and Fridays:

      The Sorrowful Mysteries recall Jesus’ passion and death:
      – The Agony of Jesus in the Garden (Matthew 26:36–56);
      – The Scourging at the Pillar (Matthew 27:26);
      – The Crowning with Thorns (Matthew 27:27–31);
      – The Carrying of the Cross (Matthew 27:32);
      – The Crucifixion (Matthew 27:33–56).

    • Wednesdays and Sundays:

      The Glorious Mysteries focus on the resurrection of Jesus and the glories of heaven:
      – The Resurrection (John 20:1–29);
      – The Ascension (Luke 24:36–53);
      – The Descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–41);
      – The Assumption of Mary, the Mother of God, into heaven;
      – The Coronation of Mary in heaven.

    • Thursdays:

      Pope John Paul II added The Mysteries of Light, also known as the Luminous Mysteries, in 2002:
      – The Baptism in the River Jordan (Matthew 3:13–16);
      – The Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2:1–11);
      – The Preaching of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14–15);
      – The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8);
      – The Institution of the Holy Eucharist (Matthew 26).

  6. Skip the centerpiece medallion, and on the ten beads after that, pray a Hail Mary on each bead; on the between each decade, pray a Glory Be.

    Many add the Fatima Prayer after the Glory Be and before the next Our Father: O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell and lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen.

  7. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 four more times to finish the next four decades.

  8. At the end of your Rosary, pray the Hail Holy Queen or the Memorare.

    Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence we fly unto you, O virgin our Mother. To you we come, before you we kneel, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate despise not our petitions but in your mercy  hear and answer them. Amen.

    9. Concluding Prayer: O God, whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation; grant we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Family Life: Reflective Parenting

by Ray Martin

The more I read about good Catholic parenting, the more I start to freak out that I’m failing, especially when I read stats from sources like the National Study of Youth and Religion that said less than one out of three kids in the U.S. remain in the faith of their parents, but as in most things that seem daunting when you look at a big lofty goal, having a plan and following the lead of other people who have done it right can make the impossible more doable, so today we are wrapping up what we’ve learned from the National Study on Youth and Religion and figuring out how to make sure that our kids grow up to be Catholic.

If you missed a couple of our previous episodes, Micro-Churches was on the domestic church and how our children’s future identity is formed in the home, the second was on Super-Parents and how important your influence is to the future faith life of your children.  I encourage you to go back and watch them, but today we are looking into the nitty gritty of exactly how to be an effective Catholic parent and pass on our faith to your children.

Now we could fill a library with how to books on Catholic Parenting, so it’s not like we’re going to cover everything today, but we are going to at minimum offer some practical insight on what this looks like in today’s world.

Intentional And Reflective

In a presentation on the National Study on Youth and Religion, Justin Bartkus said that effective parents are intentional and reflective.  They provide an environment in their micro-church at home where kids grow up having observed that being a practicing Catholic is meaningful, that it’s a good thing and so it’s something that they will continue to have in their life as adults.  They will feel that way if they perceive that being committed to the faith is valuable, but they won’t if they see The Church as pointless.  They will look to their parents as a witness to make sense of what they learn from attending Mass or Youth Faith Formation, or Catholic School.

So for you Super-Parents, it’s critical to know how important your role is and have a purpose for passing on the faith.  In addition to that, you need to reflect on how you are doing.  It’s one thing to have good intentions, but that will only get you so far if you aren’t looking back on your family’s religious development.

Start With A Goal

Back in our first episode, we defined the goal of Catholic Parenting as helping our kids recognize that being a devoted disciple of Jesus as a Catholic is meaningful and even necessary to living a life of joy and fulfillment.  That’s our intent.  How do we do that?

Model Successful Catholic Households

In our second episode, we covered the general findings of the NSYR and how less than ⅓ of Households in the U.S. are effectively passing on faith to their children and Catholics are not at the top of that list, but we can look to those homes that were effective and find out what we need to do to turn those stats around.

According to the NSYR there are four variables that parents either do well or don’t do well in teaching their children that faith is something they should want to have in their life when they grow up:

  1. Parents communicate why being Catholic is important.
  2. They authentically model what they say about being Catholic.
  3. They bring religious content into the life of the family through programs like Catholic School, Youth Faith Formation, Youth Group, CYO Sports, Camps etc.
  4. Most importantly, they help interpret how the faith relates to daily life through conversations, teachable moments, deaths in the family, conversion of the parent themselves.

You Are Not Alone

While it may sound scary as if all of the responsibility falls on your shoulders, there is a tremendous amount of resources available for you at the parish and greater community to lean on.  First and foremost, you need to make a personal decision that you want your kids to be Catholic when they grow up.  If that’s important to you, then it’s time to take a look in the mirror and figure out if you’re being a role model of the faith.  No one is perfect, but making changes little by little is our path to holiness.  St. Terese said to do little things every day, to trust God, and to strive for holiness.  And really, all of the intent in the world will not impact your kids as much as seeing you genuinely live the sacramental life of The Church.

Once you’ve made the conscious choice that you want your children to have our faith in their life, then you’re ready to plug in more to the parish, here are some practical things you can frequently do to put our faith into practice:

  • Attend weekly Mass
  • Pray before meals or bedtime
  • Pray rosaries in the car
  • Take trips to religious sites or attend mass at a church when on vacation
  • Go on a mission trip
  • Pray for loved ones when visiting cemeteries
  • Help your family get to know their priest or other mentors in the parish, invite them over for dinner
  • Volunteer at Mass as ushers, lectors, altar servers, eucharistic ministers
  • Teach or assist during summer bible school or Youth Faith Formation
  • Attend Fish Fry’s and Knights of Columbus Dinners/Breakfasts, be part of the community

A Community Of Faith

An effective Catholic family has a deep relationship with their parish community both on campus and at home.  They often have a strong relationship with their priests and other mentors because the Christian Community found at their church is a system of shared support and purpose.  It’s not enough in today’s culture to expect that just attending classes for sacraments will be enough to pass on the value of being Catholic to our kids.  We as parents have to talk to them and spiritually process what’s going on in our daily lives especially in those moments of crisis and loss so that our children will know that seeking a relationship with God as a Catholic is going to give them a future of meaning, purpose, and joy.


Sources: National Study of Youth and Religion by Christian Smith and Justin Bartkus


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Family Life: Love Preferences

by Ray Martin

Have you ever given your wife or husband a gift only to have them not appreciate it the way you had hoped?  I live in a house with a 2 car garage and when my wife Brandi and I were dating she would come over often with her dog and if it was raining or icy out and they would be a mess, so I thought, “hey her birthday is coming up I’m going to give her something thoughtful, something considerate…a garage door opener!”  This has gone down as one of the worst gifts she’s ever been given. See, we don’t all value affection in the same way and that’s what we’re talking about today, love preferences.

Marriage Bank Account

There’s a fantastic book by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcek called, “Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving the First Five Years of Marriage and in it they discuss the fact that our level of fulfillment in our marriage can be thought of like a bank account meaning the relationship has a balance and there are things you do for one another that are like making deposits into this account, but if one person or the other isn’t really giving into the relationship, then the account can go into a negative balance.  I really like this analogy and often refer to it.  Once I sent Brandi flowers and even wrote a little note on a bank deposit slip to point out that I was intentionally making an effort to do something nice for her.  Sometimes though you do and do and do and the other person just doesn’t see any of that effort you are making to enhance the relationship.  That can lead one to think, “well what’s the point?” or feel unappreciated and this is actually one of the most difficult things for couples to change about themselves.  Honestly, it is the biggest reasons why relationships don’t work out.  According to the Popceks, the leading cause for marital breakdown is when people aren’t willing to love their spouse more than their comfort zone.  It’s not that couples aren’t compatible, they’re just unwilling to do what it takes to make their spouse feel loved.

Love Preferences

Recently, Fr. Tom during a homily said that love isn’t a feeling, love is a choice.  I think that’s a great segway to what we’re discussing here.  I’m sure that at some point you have heard the term “love language”.  In the Popceks’ book they use the term “lovestyle” which is a good way to think about it.  They identify three categories of styles that people tend to fall into in the way that they receive affection:  

  • Visual – all about the love notes, flowers and gifts.  I can see that you love me.
  • Auditory – tell me you love me, let’s talk so that I can hear that you love me.
  • Kinesthetic – show me you love me by doing something for me.  I need to feel loved.

One of the activities in their book is to sit down and write out 25 specific things that your spouse has done or could do that would make you feel loved and then share it with your partner.  I have to admit that this exercise is really challenging.  Brandi is direct and literal as she’s an engineer, so there have been times in our marriage where she’s said, “Ray obviously you’re upset that I didn’t do something, just tell me so that I can do it next time.”  I’m the kind of person that’s like, “I shouldn’t have to tell you, you should know me well enough to figure it out and do it.” There have been times where she’s pointed out that sometimes I don’t even know what I really need in order to feel appreciated causing her to throw up her hands in exasperation and say, “How can I love you when you don’t even know how you want to be loved?!?”

Obviously I have the wrong approach and it’s no wonder I’ve been through a divorce!  In an attempt to avoid a second, I finally wrote out a list for her and she did the same.  It was eye opening.  A random “I love you” text for no reason makes her day.  Text me in the middle of the day and I’m like Scrooge “Bah!  Why are you bothering me while I’m trying to work!”  She’s a words person, a little auditory and a lot visual.  I’m a kinesthetic spend-time-with-me kind of person.  It means the world to me when she or even our kids hang out in the kitchen after dinner rather than retreating to their rooms.

You could think of these different love-preferences as your currency.  If you want to make a deposit into your marital bank account, you need to do it in a way that you’ll get credit for by your partner.  Just like banks don’t always accept bills from foreign countries, our spouses don’t always receive our efforts because of their style.

Time For Reflection

One thing that can make or break a marriage is taking time to reflect on your relationship and discuss how you both are doing.  It sounds awkward and it can be at first, but setting aside time to say, “hey I noticed that you brought me coffee this morning and I really appreciated it.” goes a long way and reinforces that you both are making effort to go in the right direction.  So, when are you going to do this?  People talk about the importance of date nights, but that’s not regularly all that practical for many of us especially with small children…or older children with activities…or people who take business trips…or those with no children but lots of volunteer activities… (see where I’m going with this?  There’s always something.)  A great way to guarantee time to reflect on your relationship is to participate in a marriage retreat.  We are putting one on this October 7, 2017 here at the parish and it’s just a one day deal.  Come in the morning, listen to Fr. Alessandro share some insight into God’s plan for our marriages and have an opportunity to reflect on what is going well and what could go better.  We will have time for prayer and reconciliation and end the day with a private Mass followed by a candlelight dinner.  Sign Up Here

Taking time to figure out your own love-preferences and then sharing them with your partner is a relationship changing experience.  And it’s important to note that this isn’t just something for people who are on the verge of a break down or anything like that.  Everyone’s relationship gets better when you make intentional effort to be more of what your spouse needs you to be.  Troubled relationships can be saved, but great marriages can get even better.

Next Time

I promised some examples of good Catholic parenting and that’s what we’re going to talk about next time when we turn our focus back to practical things you can do to pass on our faith to your kids.  See you then!


Sources: Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving the First Five Years by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcek

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Family Life: Super-Parents

by Ray Martin

There’s that mom whose Instagram feed shows the decorated cake she made that’s all tricked out with intricately detailed fondant cut-outs of dinosaurs and palm trees or a Barbie dream castle…we often think, “wow she seems to have it all together, what a super-mom!” Good news! You don’t have to be a cake boss to have celebrity status at home because parents truly are superheroes…to their kids.

Most Influential Pastors

If you missed our last article, we were talking about Micro-Churches and how our homes are the domestic church where our identities about a lot of things in our culture are formed including our faith. (You can go back and watch or read it here.) This week we are diving deeper into that National Study of Youth and Religion that I mentioned specifically more of their overall findings. The first important thing to note is that parents were found to be the “most influential pastors” of their children.  More than priests, youth ministers, faith formation teachers, etc.  Parents:

  • Define the role faith ought to play in life
  • Set a glass ceiling of religious commitment which children rarely rise above

All other formation only matters if it is important to mom and dad, but we as parents don’t realize the incredible power of influence that we have. Why? Because cultural scripts say the opposite. We hear all the time that teenagers never talk to their parents or that kids learn about things like sex at school or from friends, but that’s not true and when it comes to religion if parents model that faith is important, then their kids stay involved.

Secret Sauce

Here are some sobering facts about the current transmission of faith among youth in the U.S. Overall, Catholics, Jewish, and Mainline Protestants are less likely ten years later to be more religious or to have grown in their faith. The NSY&R found that among their study:

  • 29% of youth stayed plugged in to their religion
  • 25% had a shallow decline
  • 13% had a steep decline and were not very involved anymore
  • 25% never were religious in their home and probably won’t be

At first glance this can sound grim, but if you look at the homes that were successful in having their kids continue to be active in their religion, the secret ingredient was that parents showed that faith is important and they were involved which indirectly gave them the opportunity to talk about religion at home. No other influence comes close to matching the influence of parents on religious faith practices of youth.

What’s My Super-Power?

Recently, one of my kids was with me after 5pm Mass and there was a visitation in the gathering space going on as we were leaving. As we walked through the crowd, he noticed a display table that had photos of the deceased, an old coca-cola can, a ball cap from his favorite team, and a small metal train. My son asked me why there was a train on the table and I explained that the man who passed away must have been into trains, so his family brought one for people to remember that about him because it symbolized something that he liked. As we walked out to the car, I asked my son if this were my funeral, what kinds of things would he want to set out on a table to symbolize me? “Coke Zero!” he shouted. (I drink bourbon or rum and coke zero at home…apparently a lot…) Thankfully he didn’t answer Captain Morgan. “Anything else?” I hesitantly asked. “A camera because you like to take pictures…and…your phone. You’re always on your phone.”

Ok, I was hoping at minimum for a guitar since I love to lead worship and maybe, oh I don’t know, a crucifix or rosary or something faith based! Nope. Drinking, taking pictures, and ignoring my children by looking at my phone is apparently what I’m known for!

The thing is, we don’t even realize that our kids are watching. They are observing. They are forming their identity off of the things that we think are valuable. If we want our children to grow up and believe that being a devoted disciple of Jesus as a Catholic is meaningful and even necessary to living a life of joy and fulfillment then we have to show them that by genuinely witnessing that in our own daily life and then talking to them about it. That’s our super-power! That’s the tremendous call that we have as stewards of God’s children that He has entrusted to us. We read in Luke 12:48 “much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

The key question that children answer when they are forming their personal identity is “Does this matter to my parents?” Show them the value of our religion by your participation in the life of The Church. Talk to them about it. You don’t have to have all of the answers or be a theology expert. Faith isn’t about that, it’s about being a witness and following the will of God for your life.

Studying this research and listening to what my kids have to say about me lately has been eye opening and scary, but we can begin to work together on how we can make a difference and start to change those statistics of children who remain Catholic. Plug in to the parish. Get more active in our community and start talking to your kids about it. There are tons of amazing families who I see doing this at Ascension, but I know there could be more.

Stay Tuned

Next time, we’re going to unpack what successful Catholic households look like and offer practical ways that we can be more intentional in forming the faith of our micro-church at home.


Sources: National Study of Youth and Religion by Christian Smith and Justin Bartkus (YouTube)

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Family Life: Micro-Churches

by Ray Martin

Our homes are these magical little culture breeding environments. Oh, not just bacteria…with six kids and two dogs, our house is crawling with nastiness, but that’s not what I’m referring to. Today we’re going to talk about Micro-Churches.

There was this National Study of Youth & Religion that started back in the 90’s and I’ve been watching a video recently by Christian Smith and Justin Bartkus who conducted the research and interviews and they describe how household members process pieces of moral lessons and media and faith and form a little micro-culture that shapes the future of the children raised there. The family then in turn brings their culture out into the community where they have an influence of the culture there.  So good or bad, our homes are little culture shaping factories.

This is why the Vatican II Council coined the phrase “domestic church” in reference to our homes. They said that parents should be the example and first teachers of the faith to their kids encouraging them to discover their vocation or calling in life. Now we’re used to hearing people say that “God has a plan for us” and it’s in the home where we learn how to discern what that mission is.

There’s a beautiful quote by Pope Francis on our day to day faith life. He said, “It is important to have a daily relationship with [God], to listen to him in silence before the Tabernacle and deep within ourselves, to speak with him, to draw near to the sacraments. Having this familiar relationship with the Lord is like keeping the window of our lives open so that he can make us hear his voice and hear what he wants us to do.” It’s not realistic to think that we can develop this relationship with God on a daily basis at Church. It’s got to be percolating at home too.

Catholic Parenting Goal

So, what’s the goal of Catholic parenting? Many would say it’s helping our kids and spouses become saints. Which is fine, but what does that really look like? I’m finding that it is up to us as parents to help teach our kids how to hear God’s voice and discern what He wants them to do with their life, which then results in their path to sainthood.

How do we do that? Well that Vatican II Council said that we need to have a “vocational approach to life”. That’s going to look much different and counter-cultural than most of our neighbors. It requires being authentic in hearing God’s voice and being open to the things that will present themselves to us when we follow God’s will. Frankly, it means that we as parents have to show our children a faith life where love and grace is the foundation that’s going to satisfy the desire of their hearts, and that will cause people in our lives to notice that there is something different about us, something meaningful, something joyful. And in doing that that, our families can change the world.

What does success look like? We will be able to look back and know that we did it right when our kids recognize that being a devoted disciple of Jesus as a Catholic is meaningful and even necessary to living a life of joy and fulfillment.

Here To Help

That study I mentioned also stated that parents are the “most dominant influencers” in the culture of a household, that magical mini-culture developing organism. They said that whatever level of faith the parents have forms kind of a glass ceiling and the children of that home usually don’t go beyond that level of commitment to their faith.

We at Ascension are here to help you be successful in your mission of raising future saints who know God’s voice and follow His direction for their life, but you have to be the director, the one who says, “we’re going to Mass this weekend”, or “how about I run you over to youth group and then I’d love to hear what you thought about it?”

Nothing we do at the Parish matters without your endorsement. So, here’s what we’re doing at the Family Life office to help equip you to be successful. We are studying resources on parenting and marriage to share with you. We understand the craziness of daily life, but we’re also highly aware of the efficient ways that we can receive and share information. So all that you need to do is plug in with us.

How To Connect

Subscribe to our kcascension YouTube channel, follow us on Facebook or Twitter and you’ll find our videos that we will be posting. We will recap the information that we’re sharing in a blog post on and in our weekly bulletin that you can pick up after Mass on the weekends. Please share this stuff! Share it with your friends online, grab an extra bulletin and give to a fellow parent to talk about.

Ultimately, we want to offer you something meaningful, something valuable, something that actually works, so that you can more intentionally shape the culture brewing in your home life and in return, that faith shared by your family will bless our Parish because of the love of Christ that you are pouring back into the culture our community and the world. We look forward to seeing you again here soon!


Sources: Love is Our Mission, National Study of Youth and Religion by Christian Smith and Justin Bartkus, and Discovering God Together by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcek.

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What Makes Divine Mercy Sunday Such A Big Deal?

Divine Mercy Image
Original painting of the Divine Mercy (by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski in 1934). Public Domain courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Ray Martin

I knew that Divine Mercy Sunday was always after Easter and that it was a day to recognize the victory won for us by the resurrection of Christ, but after hearing Fr. Alessandro talk about it during his homily on Easter where he said that Jesus wants to offer us “special graces” that will flow down on Divine Mercy Sunday and how we should participate in going to confession, I thought maybe there’s more to this feast day than I’m aware of.  The more I started looking into it, I realized that I really had no idea what made this coming Sunday so important.  I knew there was an image, a painting of the image that St. Faustina saw and that she had written a diary, but that’s about all I could come up with.

So What is Divine Mercy Sunday?

Well, Pope John Paul II declared that the Sunday immediately following Easter should be Divine Mercy Sunday.  Why?  Apparently in the 1930’s Jesus told St. Faustina, a nun from Poland, that not only should we celebrate a Feast of Mercy, but that it should be the Sunday after Easter.  Pope John Paul II made this surprise announcement in a homily on May 5, 2000 when he Canonized St. Faustina who had written the messages that she was being given by the Lord.  

If you’re being hard on yourself for not realizing that this feast day was important, you partly don’t know a lot about it because:

  1. it’s relatively new as of the turn of the millennium
  2. Catholics aren’t forced to believe in the visions of St. Faustina, they’re the tradition that the Feast is based on…but it’s not ALL that it’s based on.

Even back in the Old Testament we hear about the mercy of God, and then Jesus himself spread a message of our merciful Father who wants us to show mercy to the sick, the poor, the naked, the thirsty, etc.  The ultimate act of Love demonstrated by Christ in dying on the Cross showed us that there’s no sin so great that can’t be forgiven by God if we chose to turn back to Him.

What Makes Divine Mercy Sunday So Special?

Reconciling with our Father is the biggest benefit of this Feast of Mercy.  There are many ways to do so, but what marks this day so extraordinary is that there’s a Plenary Indulgence offered by The Church, a special one.

What’s The Difference Between A Plenary Indulgence & Going To Confession?

I’m glad you asked because I had to look it up myself!  Here’s my understanding: when we are given absolution from our sins through the sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest says, “I absolve you from all of your sins”.  As an ambassador or representative of Christ himself, we are forgiven in that very moment from our sins.  (If you aren’t sure who gave them the right to do so, check out John 20:22 where Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on the Disciples and tells them to go forgive sins).  The Church says that after we confess, we are no longer separated from the love of God meaning we’ll go to heaven, but depending on what we did God might keep us in Purgatory for a little while.  Yes, we’re reconciled in our relationship with God, however there could still be a temporal punishment where we need to be purified on our way to eternal life in communion with the Saints.

A Plenary Indulgence however, can eliminate even the temporal punishment, or time in purgatory.  The Plenary Indulgence offered by The Church on Divine Mercy Sunday is unique because rather than being available for others or souls already in purgatory, it’s only available for yourself.

How Do We Celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday And Get These Extraordinary Graces?

  • Go to confession on or before Divine Mercy Sunday
  • Attend Mass and receive the Eucharist
  • Participate in a Divine Mercy Prayer Service which will include adoration, praying the Creed, and a devotional prayer to our merciful Lord Jesus such as “Merciful Jesus, I trust in You!”

Ascension will host a prayer service at 3:00pm this Divine Mercy Sunday April 23rd, 2017 in the church where we will sing a Divine Mercy Chaplet, offer the sacrament of Reconciliation, and experience Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.  All are welcome to attend!

For more on Divine Mercy visit or USCCB.

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